I read Aamir Butt’s recent blog post ‘Turn on your greed gene’ with great interest, and, I have to admit, with a little anxiety. You see if I’m honest, I’m probably one of those people who Aamir says “don’t get it”. I’m someone who’s “happy to make some money and call it a day,” although not because I’m worried about looking vulgar.
For this reason, I don’t really fit into the Next Business Generation culture, although I have been part of the programme for the last 2 months and have certainly benefitted from it.
I don’t think my greed gene is switched off though, or that I’m not successful as an entrepreneur. I did agree with a lot of what Aamir said, particularly the need to be focused, absorb information from other people and apply what you learn to your business.
However, I’m motivated by a different kind of greed and I measure my success differently, not purely by the amount of money I make.
There’s a new breed of ‘micropreneurs’
I’m one of a growing number of 30-something ‘micropreneurs’ – self-funded digital entrepreneurs who value job satisfaction and a better work/life balance over getting rich quickly. The term ‘micropreneur’ was coined by Mike Taber and Rob Walling, authors of the book ‘Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup’. I’m a big fan of their movement; here’s an extract from their book:
“Without goals for both yourself and your startup you are flying blind without guidance in situations where there is no right or wrong answer. Answers need to stem from your long-term desires for your startup and yourself.
Want to grow as large as possible? Make that your goal and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Realize this will mean hiring employees, and working longer hours.
Want to spend more time with your family and quit your 9 to 5? Make that your goal and realize you will have to turn down many opportunities that come your way.”
I chose the second goal.
I’m greedy for a nice life
I’m a structural engineer who offers consultancy services but I also build e-commerce websites like steelbeamcalculator.co.uk in my spare time.
With a mortgage and a young family to think about, I can’t afford to earn a pittance and live off noodles for three years while I invest everything in my business. And I don’t want to work 70 hours a week and miss seeing my boy grow up.
Instead, I’ve opted to start my own consultancy and build niche, low-risk websites on the side that earn me an additional income. So this is my greed: I want to earn enough money to live comfortably and reap the benefits of being my own boss, working from home and having time with my family.
‘Rags to riches’ isn’t the only story out there
I realise this doesn’t sound exciting. The media particularly, much prefer stories of young entrepreneurs who start businesses in their garages and end up making millions. We all know the story of Facebook, Google and Amazon. Even shows like The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den imply that successful start-ups are ones that attract influential investors, grow fast and turnover millions. But I believe there’s an alternative story: the story of the micropreneur. And so far, it’s looking promising – I make around £6,000 a month, which is a healthy salary, and my online sales are up 50% on last year.
Don’t overlook the middle-of-the-road self-starters
I think Aamir’s post needed to recognise that there are loads of small-scale entrepreneurs like me who are doing well. Just because we’re not Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg it doesn’t mean we’re not successful, or that we don’t have clear goals or focus. It’s just that our goals are different.
What do others think? I would love to hear your opinions, you can contact me through twitter @beamcalcs or email me at [email protected]